When a California resident creates a will that outlines the guidelines that should be followed to distribute one's assets and estate, there must be someone on the other end who will follow these directions to the letter. This is where an executor or personal representative comes in. He or she is responsible for settling the decedent's estate according to their directions. The person can appoint someone on their own or the court will appoint someone if no one has been appointed. Not only does this individual have to settle all their debts, but they also have to distribute what is left of the estate to the descendants.
One of the main responsibilities of a trustee is the fiduciary duty owed by them. This means that he or she must put the trust's interests above all other interests. Not only should the trustee preserve the trust's property and assets, but he or she should also defend the beneficiaries against legitimacy challenges. Additionally, the trustee should separate his or her own personal property from the trust's property and handle all issues with attention to detail.
Executors are tasked with the heavy burden of distributing the decedent's estate, making sure all the relevant taxes are paid and all the legal formalities to conclude the estate are completed. While their authority is very broad and they have a great deal of discretion in navigating the probate courts, their power is not absolute. They have limits placed on their activities by virtue of their fiduciary duty to the estate.
As its name implies, a trust depends on trusting someone. A trustee is someone with an enormous amount of power over assets that are supposed to be managed on behalf of the beneficiaries. This is a big responsibility, and it can be a terrible problem if the trustee acts negligently.
If you were to ask the average person what elements are necessary to create a trust, many wouldn't know how to answer. The purposes of a trust can be several, but the means in which a trust is created are few. Here's a few things to understand about the elements of a trust. Knowing them can help you to spot if negligence is occurring.
Trusts, wills and estate plans are often made up of family members, once designated by the head of the family who may or may not be able to intervene in the day-to-day of these accounts. There could be many reasons for setting up these estate plans, trusts or other form of financial management. It could be because the originator of the estate had a certain plan for their remaining finances. It could be for the tax breaks.
Being a person who is affected by, or has an impact on, a trust, will or other estate plan can be a blessing or a burden. Oftentimes, there are multiple parties involved in the estate plan, will or trust administration. Not always do these people see eye-to-eye. It's possible that someone involved in the will, trust or estate plan does not do as intended.
Knowing what an executor does is important for families in California to understand. In addition, it is helpful for families to understand executor liability and what to do if an executor violates his or her fiduciary duties.